The Patriots and Bills will meet again Monday (8:30 p.m., ESPN - streaming live online at WatcESPN), which means old friend Rex Ryan makes his return to Foxboro - this time with a different team from New York.
In the first go-around this season, the Patriots handed Ryan a loss – something they’ve done plenty of times since he got his first head-coaching job with the Jets. New England went up big against the Bills in Buffalo in Week 2, and held them off after a Buffalo fourth-quarter charge.
It was business as usual – Bill Belichick got his win, and Ryan went back to the drawing board.
But that also had Ryan a little salty towards Patriots reporters last week when the topic of his infatuation with beating the Patriots came up.
“You know what, the only reason I talk about them is because they’re the No. 1 team in our division and that’s where we want to be," he said. "I know that you guys always say that I’m obsessed with them and all that but you’re obsessed with them, not me. I want to beat them but you’re the ones who talk about them every single day . . . You guys write that I’ve lost seven of eight so why are you even talking to me? I obviously have no clue how to attack them or defend them so you guys should talk to someone else that has a better record than I do.”
Allllllrighty then, Rex. Here are three keys to the game:
Trick headline – you don’t replace Edelman. In fact, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have both said that Edelman can’t be replaced, which is a bit unusual to hear, but does speak to the importance of the slot man. One player might not be able to fill Edelman’s shoes, but Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell, and the rest of the offense should be able to figure it out. The Pats always do.
You usually only go as far as your quarterback can take you in the NFL. The Bills hope that isn’t true. It isn’t that quarterback Tyrod Taylor isn’t good enough to win, it’s just that the Bills are clearly a team focused on their running game. With LeSean McCoy and rookie Karlos Williams, the Bills are second in the NFL in rushing yards, averaging 142.3 per game. But the Patriots are second in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 88.2 per game. Something is going to give on Monday, and if the Patriots jump out to a lead, the Bills will be eventually forced to throw.
Which team do you think will be able to keep it's composure Monday night: The team that leads the NFL in penalties (107) and is coached by the always-emotional Ryan? Or the team that’s been in countless primetime games and knows how to handle the extra attention and pressure? Take the Pats and their 106-19 home record since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002.